Dr Hinds' power-sharing proposals are not practical

Stabroek News
August 21, 2001

Dear Editor,

On July 31, 2001, Dr. David Hinds made an effort to defend his "power sharing" concept, by submitting a proposal on his website. This appeared in the newspapers a week later.

The conjecture seems to be weak and lacked clarity since no mention was made of the implementation strategy. Most importantly, the primary factor (i.e., the people) was not taken into account.

Allow me then, to make a few points since I think this power sharing idea is being blown out of proportion:

Power is not a neutral thing. Therefore, it cannot be shared without the consent of those who give power, i.e., the people. As a matter of fact, party (ies) power is based upon group solidarity, therefore a referendum should be taken to see whether the people of the different parties want to share power under the present crisis. The reason for this is to prevent further tragedy befalling my fellow Guyanese that this new principle of governing might bring. This is an important issue that Dr. Hinds' thesis failed to address.

But let's assume for one moment that the people are willing to share power, then the following basic questions must be asked: What government institution or institutions will help in making the implementation process a reality? Are these institutions capable of dealing with and managing the inertia that might be triggered by the installation process? Is there a system in place that will facilitate the smooth transition of the process? What implementation methods or techniques will be used? The answers to these vital questions must be explored, if not the proposal remains a myth, hanging on the walls of abstraction with vagueness and ambiguity.

Third, there is no specific prescription for power sharing since it is situational, therefore no model that is currently in place can be used universally. Guyana's political situation is different, ethnic leaders used their position to mobilize their ethnic groups to be in confrontation with other ethnic groups which creates a latent environment for catastrophe. Forging power sharing now without having a device to bring the country back to normalcy is an insensitive political barometer in an unstable society. For this will make the citizens more uneasy and insecure and power sharing difficult to achieve.

For power sharing to be effective, an apparatus must be in place that will guarantee the citizens that after all the gimmicks of political campaigns and rallies are over, public programmes and policies will be distributed justly, objectively and not subjectively. The fact is that when all is said and done, in a democratic society the people do not care which party (ies) is in power after the elections are over; what they are interested in is that government policies and programmes must be dispensed sensitively and evenhandedly without any subtleties with regards to race or political affiliation! This is the basic issue that must be addressed by all parties concerned and which Dr. Hinds' proposal failed to examine.

Dr. Hinds' theory has many flaws. It precipitates from a scholarly point of view and not from the perspective of a public policymaker. The power sharing formula put forth by Dr. Hinds ignores all the crucial elements (i.e., the real life experience) that will come directly into play with any new form of governance. On the contrary, public administrators must be competent to act in an ad hoc way to quell conflicts by improvising. Therefore, it is logical and prudent to say that both academicians and public policymakers operate in two different worlds, and what seemed workable for one, may be unworkable for the other.

Yours faithfully,
Bobby Gossai, MPA
Doctoral Student